Chernobyl restarts in response to Western delay

30 November 1999

Ukraine is gearing up to restart Chernobyl Unit 3 despite an agreement to close the power station by 2000. The decision is a response to the lack of progress in funding alternative power sources. Ukraine requires $1.75 billion to complete half built reactors at Khmelnitsky and Rovno (K2R4).

The 1995 agreement with the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialised nations involved Western promises to help finance K2R4, but the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is still negotiating the terms of a 170 million euro loan. Despite an initial plan that a decision would be made this autumn, the issue is not on the agenda for the bank’s last board meeting of the year. Other lenders are unlikely to act before the EBRD.

Julia Silberman, a spokesperson for the EBRD denied that the delay in making a decision had anything to do with the anti-nuclear stance of the German government.

“The negotiations are at a very delicate and complicated stage and we need time to settle all the issues,” she said.

Joskar Fischer, the German foreign minister, who is a member of the Green Party, has expressed disapproval at the idea of Germany helping to finance the building of reactors abroad while trying to close them down at home. He has advocated building fossil fuel plants instead.

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